Jerome R. Corsi, a Harvard Ph.D., is a WND senior staff reporter. He has authored many books, including No. 1 N.Y. Times best-sellers "The Obama Nation" and "Unfit for Command." Corsi's latest book is "Who Really Killed Kennedy?"More ↓Less ↑
President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.
That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for “National Essential Functions” of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president’s directives in the event of a national emergency.
The directive loosely defines “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”
When the president determines a catastrophic emergency has occurred, the president can take over all government functions and direct all private sector activities to ensure we will emerge from the emergency with an “enduring constitutional government.”
Translated into layman’s terms, when the president determines a national emergency has occurred, the president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over.
Ironically, the directive sees no contradiction in the assumption of dictatorial powers by the president with the goal of maintaining constitutional continuity through an emergency.
The directive specifies that the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism will be designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.
Further established is a Continuity Policy Coordination Committee, chaired by a senior director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, to be “the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.”
She is a White House staff member in the executive office of the president who also chairs the Homeland Security Council, which as a counterpart to the National Security Council reports directly to the president.
Congressional Research Service study notes that under the National Emergency Act, the president “may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.”
The CRS study notes that the National Emergency Act sets up congress as a balance empowered to “modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority,” if Congress believes the president has acted inappropriately.
NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 appears to supersede the National Emergency Act by creating the new position of National Continuity Coordinator without any specific act of Congress authorizing the position.
NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 also makes no reference whatsoever to Congress. The language of the May 9 directive appears to negate any a requirement that the president submit to Congress a determination that a national emergency exists, suggesting instead that the powers of the executive order can be implemented without any congressional approval or oversight.
Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Knocke affirmed that the Homeland Security Department will be implementing the requirements of NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 under Townsend’s direction.